The Nationals WA will introduce legislation to Parliament today aimed at the creation of two additional electoral districts in Western Australia.
Member for the Agricultural Region, Martin Aldridge MLC, will table the Constitution and Electoral Amendment Bill 2016 during Private Members Business today.
The Bill will allow the creation of two additional Legislative Assembly districts in time for the 2021 State election.
Leader of The Nationals WA, Terry Redman, said the legislation was necessary to allow all voters across the State fair and reasonable access to their local Member of Parliament.
“Over the past decade, Western Australia has seen unprecedented population growth, with the addition of some 581,500 new residents,” Mr Redman said.
“Members of Parliament are now responsible for more constituents and in the case of many regional districts, larger geographical boundaries than ever before.”
Mr Redman said the abolishment of the regional electorate of Eyre and expansion of others in regional WA ahead of the 2017 State election had prompted the proposed reforms.
“Without legislative change, regional electorates will continue to become larger and more difficult to represent while metropolitan electorates will be faced with a greater number of constituents who may be unable to be represented effectively by a single Member of Parliament.
“It’s time to appropriately recognise these challenges by increasing the number of seats in the Legislative Assembly to ensure voters can be better represented.”
Upper House MP Martin Aldridge said precedent existed for the change, with the Labor Party increasing the number of Legislative Assembly seats from 57 to 59 in 2005.
“The Legislative Assembly has historically evolved and grown over time,” Mr Aldridge said.
“According to the latest enrolment statistics, on average, each Member of Parliament is now responsible to 25,170 voters, up from 21,350 when the new Districts were added to the electoral map in 2007. The creation of the new districts will help to address this situation.”
Mr Aldridge said while regional electoral district boundaries had increased considerably over the past decade, the resources afforded to regional Parliamentarians had not.
“The newly created Roe electorate, formed by merging the districts of Eyre and Wagin, is more than 106,000 square kilometres, making it roughly the size of Greece, with a single Member of Parliament to represent this vast and diverse electorate.
“Northern electoral districts are even more disadvantaged in geographic terms. The newly expanded electorate of North West Central is now one of the world’s largest electorates at over 817,000 square kilometres – the size of Italy and Spain combined.’
Mr Aldridge said the size was becoming “unmanageable” and no amount of technology or travel options could compensate for the value of having a more locally based and readily available Member of Parliament.
The sentiment was echoed in the 2015 report by the WA Electoral Distribution Commissioners, with the Commissioners acknowledging the difficulties faced by regional voters.
“The removal of a district from the vast landscape of country Western Australia has a significant impact on the democratic process, especially for people in an electorate that is effectively abolished and for those who find themselves in a geographically larger district as a consequence,” the report stated.